How do environmental conditions in poultry barns impact poultry performance?

This project will seek to answer the question: how do environmental conditions in poultry barns impact poultry performance? At present, monitoring data collected in poultry houses are largely leveraged to address basic questions regarding the functionality of environmental control systems, such as whether a house has exceeded a temperature threshold, but these data yield the potential to address far more consequential questions than whether an environmental control system has met specifications. A P4 fellow will analyze monitoring data collected in a high-rise egg-laying house in NC to resolve interactive effects between housing conditions and animal productivity. Using hourly environmental monitoring data (temperature, airflow, relative humidity, particulate matter, and ammonia, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide concentrations) and daily animal performance metrics (average body weight, water and feed consumption, egg production, and mortality), the P4 fellow will construct an animal welfare index and a series of cumulative exposure metrics from these data to determine if changes in production housing conditions produced different laying hen performance outcomes. Project findings will support the creation of a decision-support tool to assist poultry producers make better use of environmental monitoring data. This project addresses the Grand Challenges Facing Animal Production of (1) optimizing the health and productivity of animals in a manner that protects and enhances human health, (2) producing animal proteins in an economically, environmentally and socially acceptable manner that meets the demands of an increasing population, and (3) optimizing animal well-being in a socially acceptable and sustainable manner.